AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST
“Don’t Breathe” comes from director Fede Alvarez and his creative team behind 2013’s remake of “Evil Dead.” The film stars Jane Levy as Rocky (the lead in “Evil Dead,” as well) and her two friends Alex and Money (Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto) who have done a variety of small-home robberies around Detroit and are looking to gain enough money to leave their former lives behind. When they get an inside tip about an old man (who, they later find out, also happens to be blind) that. may be sitting on a large inheritance, they pick him as an easy target. Little do they know that this old man is not at all what he seems.
Let me just start by saying that the home invasion thriller sub-genre is filled with plenty of great films such as “You’re Next” and “Hush.” But it also has it’s fair share of other films that are very lackluster and don’t bring much originality or creativeness. Thankfully, “Don’t Breathe” is miles ahead of many home-invasion thrillers of its kind and may be one of the best I’ve ever seen.
To say this movie is tense is an understatement. The directing, sound design, editing, performances and even the musical score are all fantastic and keep you gripping your seat the entire ride. I found myself getting so immersed in the terrifying situations with the characters that at times I was holding my breath with them. This basic concept of a terrifying game of hide and seek with people whom you should really hate yet you root for through most of the film is downright excellent. Every noise, floorboard creak or desperate move they make could mean their deaths, and it creates in intense ride that I didn’t want to end.
Stephen Lang as the blind old man did an excellent job of being downright intimidating as he struggles to protect himself in his home and fight these people, even through his handicap. He is barely given any dialogue to work with, yet his emotions and actions spoke louder than his words. It’s hard to not feel some sympathy for his character at moments, but his brutal nature and the film’s later twists and turns reveal something much more sinister. I did find these extra plot points a little unnecessary, but they did advance the old man’s character further and added more of a disturbing nature to him.
Overall, “Don’t Breathe” is one of my favorite thriller/home invasion films in recent memory. The simple yet totally effective concept keeps you entertained and terrified for these characters the whole time. Fede Alvarez and his team have crafted something unique and special here, and I think horror fans will greatly appreciate it.